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Commercial private sector: companies manufacturing cannabidiol would be users of this research. They would also benefit in terms of increased understanding of the effects of CBD treatment on the brain’s endogenous cannabinoid system which would be very important to the development of new cannabinoid targets, some of which are now in the early stages of development.
Wider public: cannabis is a public health issue across the world and so the findings of this project have potential for global impact. Those addicted to cannabis will be the major users of this research. Dependent cannabis use by younger people can impact negatively upon their families and their schools/colleges and these may be indirect beneficiaries. Cannabis remains a large problem for policing and the legal system. The probationary/legal system could be users of this research in terms of advocating more effective treatment orders.
Policy makers: currently there are reviews of drug policy occurring in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A pharmacological treatment for cannabis dependence may well influence drug policy in terms of debates about decriminalisation or licensing cannabis use. In the USA, policy makers may use this research in debating the continuation or not of medical uses of marijuana. Within the UK, users of this research would be the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs.
How might they benefit?
Potential to contribute to the nation’s health and wealth: the marked prevalence of cannabis use makes it a public health issue and if successful this project will make a significant contribution to the nation’s health. It will also have impact on wealth in terms of fewer days absent from education/work and this combined with improved neurocognitive function should enhance achievement and productivity. Quality of life of individuals with the addiction and their families would be improved by successful pharmacological treatment.
Charities: there are various charities concerned with the use of drugs who will use outputs from this project. For example, the charity DrugScope provides educational materials for school pupils and their teachers and these could encourage more problematic cannabis users to seek help given an effective pharmacological treatment.
Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy: the main users will be NHS Drug Treatment Services and treatment provision within the charitable and private sectors.
Timescales for the benefits to be realized: the success of this project would lead to a large scale randomized clinical trial which, if also successful, would mean that benefits to the target population of cannabis dependent individuals could be realized within 3 years following completion of the present project.
What research and professional skills of staff working on the project will be gained? We anticipate a wide range of generic research skills will be acquired by the post-doc and RA as well as generic communication skills (via peer-reviewed articles, conference abstracts, oral presentations to a range of academic and non-academic audiences).